Below is an audio recording and slideshow of a short presentation I gave in May 2014 as part of Object Affinity, a two-day symposium hosted by the University of Oxford School of Archaeology. The symposium invited scholars across varied disciplines to handle and examine fragments of lekythoi (decorated Greek funerary vessels from 6th-5th centuries BC) at the Ashmolean museum, and to present a speculative indication of how our own research might intersect with issues raised by these artifacts.

Presentations were subject to a strict seven-and-a-half minute time limit, with fifteen slides automatically advancing every thirty seconds. I spoke from the perspective of my studio-based fine art research; other participants spoke on geography, archaeology, history, modern languages and anthropology.

My own presentation borrows from funerary rites involving the illustrated lekythoi, suggesting some connections between drawing and death, bearing in mind the possibilities for drawing to capture transient experience.

I propose a problematic inherent in the act of drawing: that by setting out to capture transient experience, drawing contributes to the very transience of that experience. I conclude that the lekythoi and associated funerary rites instead “suggest a way of treating a thing with drawing: anointing it with a kind of capturing—but not through the objectifying or discourse-layering regard of the eye and of the pencil, but rather by feel, by attachment, by the material integration of an oil scented with the fact of drawing.”

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